"Vinyl outselling CDs" is the new "Voyager has left the solar system"

Originally published at: "Vinyl outselling CDs" is the new "Voyager has left the solar system" | Boing Boing


Vinyl records are more expensive to produce, ship and retail than CDs, so it makes sense that it would take longer for revenues to exceed CDs than it did for unit sales to exceed CDs. Another reminder of how much we were ripped off when record companies charged a premium for CDs back in the day.


It should be noted though that the majority of song listening these days is through streaming services, so these sales numbers look nice but in context they really are still sad at least to me. I know that lugging around CDs or even just storing what you bought in cloud storage might seem silly but I always love having music on hand whenever I want it rather than just whenever Spotify or whomever feels like licensing it.


Never mind


Absolutely, great album, I have it on vinyl myself too


Last weekend I went to the local antique center that has a booth where I used to buy all sorts of great records for $5 a pop. This time around most were around $20 and the covers were beat to hell and the vinyl a Good rating at best. I did manage to score five, three from that booth and two from another, which set me back $56. First time I saw VU’s Loaded in the wild but it wasn’t worth the $20 they wanted for it with a split jacket and scuffed vinyl.


Given the eye-watering prices for new vinyl that I saw the last time I was at Third Eye, it doesn’t surprise me that they’re claiming sales have exceeded CDs. I mean, maybe the prices are equivalent to what they were back in the day accounting for inflation, but even with nearly no money as a squeaker I could buy albums without wincing - today, I have to really think about whether I want any given release before I sink $40 or more on it.

What’s really starting to bug me, though, are vinyl-only releases. Vinyl is a fun retro novelty good for bragging rights and a handful of plays, but please also give me a robust modern physical format that I don’t have to store on my hard drive.


When CDs were introduced, manufacturing costs were surely higher than for vinyl.


I was thinking this was another “Jimmy Carter is not long for this world. Here’s a reflection on his legacy…” story. (We’ve been seeing those regularly since at least 2015, and at this point I’m convinced that the man is going to outlive us all.)


The real story is that few are buying albums at all,


I mean… CDs are basically a digital storage device. You can store uncompressed digital files on a thumb drive or iPhone… I think that’s the problem with CDs now. People just don’t need them. You can get the exact same experience with digital files either downloaded or streaming… if it’s the packaging and art etc you’re into, that’s where vinyl really shines… I think that’s the thing here. People who want convenience are going for digital streaming. People who want the art and novelty and physical experience they associate with music are gravitating back to vinyl…

(There are certain cases where I think you could make an arguement for the experience of CDs. But I think to me that’s 90s nostalgia. Like I associate Nirvana and Pearl Jam with CDs (or maybe cassettes) so having music from that time on that format makes sense from a historical/nostalgic POV)

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I still prefer having the CD, if it’s readily available (& not fetching exorbitant prices).

Most new CDs (in my experience) are definitely cheaper than they were when I started buying them 34 years ago. At 1st it seemed like all CDs were $17 or 18. Most LPs were less than 1/2 that unless it was an import.

(Edit for selpling)


Well, sure. And for the storage of music, they’re far superior to thumb drives or hard drives or the flash memory of an iPhone. In the 35 years that I’ve owned hundreds of CDs, I’ve never had a single one fail. Conversely, I’ve had multiple instances of flash drive and hard drive corruption or failure, any one of which would have caused me to lose my entire collection of music if I was relying in it. Convenience is fine, but for reliable, nearly-archival storage of a music collection, there is no consumer format that beats CD.


I still have both CDs & vinyl. Because once I have it, I have it. No ads, no internet, no further licenses, no cancellation, no tracking. I can copy it, trade it, give it away freely.
Actually I still have 45s & 78s too. And cassettes! But I will say I’m very thankful for the vast number of 78s being digitized & shared at archive.org & other archives.


The only failsafe for data storage is backup redundancy. I’ve had hard drives fail and a couple times lost files and learned my lesson. Now I have multiple backups of important files… and some of that on the cloud as well. I have MP3s going back to 1999 and some other files going back to the mid 90s and I still have almost all of them after 23 years because of backups.

But really convenience is the thing with digital. It’s so easy to do a search for a song title or artist and have it playing in a second. I actually have a decent sized vinyl collection and I play records regularly, but I probably still play more music digitally via iTunes library or streaming for that reason alone. I guess for me personally I’m the two extremes at once… vinyl for the collectible/art/experience and streaming/iPhone mp3 library for listening on the go, in my pocket, in the car. Digital is basically my walkman. Vinyl is my home stereo.


He’s in hospice care right now…


As do I - 3Tb worth, and counting. But that’s not an argument against the superiority of CDs as a storage medium for music. Implicit in this argument is an admission of the volatility of the other digital storage media we’re talking about. We wouldn’t have to make multiple redundant backups if these media were reliable.

I’m not hating on vinyl here - it’s fun, and I take great pleasure in futzing around with my 1978 Lab-400 turntable. But if it’s music I care about, I want it on CD first - then we can talk about “fun” or “convenient” formats.

Edit: Changed “you” to “we,” 'cuz we’re all in the same boat. :slight_smile:


Yes, and if history is any guide he’ll be there for a long, long time.

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We buy CDs for two reasons

  • It’s autographed
  • It’s cheaper to buy the CD + Digital than to get Digital alone (??? Not always, but it happens)


  • Or digital is DRMed or not available

Our three reasons…


Also, don’t forget there is still a physical experience associated with CDs. Different than vinyl, but still there. Booklets and artwork didn’t go extinct when CDs dethroned vinyl.